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So-Called Black Conservatives Flop at NAACP Convention.

Deneen Borelli, a staff member of the Tea Party group FreedomWorks, promised to “lead a Black conservative surge at the annual NAACP” convention taking place in Las Vegas this past July.  Borelli, who claims status as a contributor to FOX News, has appeared on the Glenn Beck show and a host of other right-wing TV productions.  She has been declared by the American Spectator magazine as “America’s New Rosa Parks,” a declaration somewhat akin to Glenn Beck claiming the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King.  Borelli’s chief complaint of the moment about the NAACP: she has not been invited to speak at an NAACP convention.

The actual convention, the NAACP’s 105th, gathered more than 1,000 delegates who were elected at the local branches, hundreds and hundreds more were members who served as alternates and observers.  They welcomed the new president and CEO, Cornell William Brooks with cheers and standing ovations.  Delegates voted in their regional meetings for new regional officers and in plenaries on a string of resolutions concerning voting rights, civil rights, criminal justice, labor and the economy.  Of particular note to IREHR, NAACP delegates voted unanimously in favor of a resolution, written by our advisory board member Michael Enriquez, supporting fast food workers drive for $15 an hour and union representation.  They attended continuing legal education seminars, luncheons for health and labor rights, and dozens of other meetings and gatherings.

In all of that, NAACP members saw little sign of Deneen Borelli and her FreedomWorks team at their convention. This writer looked for leaflets or other omens of invite, but there were none easily visible. 

FreedomWorks did have a small booth in the exhibit hall, tucked away next to booths for the Justice Department and the Social Security Administration. Another Tea Party-aligned group, Americans for Prosperity, also purchased a booth in the hall. Over at the FreedomWorks table, Borelli and her cohort C.L. Bryant appeared to spend more time antagonizing NAACP members than gaining any support.

Borelli did hold one meeting at the same hotel convention center at the same time as the NAACP.  So did a convention of pet food vendors.  But if the pictures Borelli posted of her meeting ring true, there were a bevy of black conservatives at the front of her room set to speak, two or so black people in the back, and a couple of dozen white people in the audience listening.  Borelli did manage to use the convention backdrop in her video of the event, but she had no presence inside the convention and the “surge” she promised never appeared.

FreedomWorks is a dangerous organization that aims to undo everything that civil and human rights activists want to get done.  But this time, FreedomWorks looked silly, and the NAACP came on strong.

Leonard Zeskind

Author Leonard Zeskind

is founder of IREHR. For almost four decades, he has been a leading authority on white nationalist political and social movements. He is the author of Blood and Politics: The History of White Nationalism from the Margins to the Mainstream, published by Farrar Straus & Giroux in May 2009. [more..]

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